Sunday, January 15, 2012
After going to Italy, my hankering to see the world was only getting stronger. The church that I was a part of was focused on church planting, and my friends and I dreamt of helping to start a church somewhere in Europe. We went on a scouting trip to Amsterdam to find out if that might be a good place for us...I'll tell you about that later. But on that first trip to Amsterdam, we took a day trip to Bruges, Belgium.
Bruges has to be one of the most romantic places I've ever been. The canals and towers and bridges look like the perfect setting for a storybook fairy tale. Most of the architechture from medieval days survived WWII, making it one of the best preserved medieval cities. After the train ride down from Amsterdam, I spent the day with my friends Melinda and Diane.
We took a tour down the canals, learning all about the history and peeking into the row-house windows. Then we had lunch at one of the many luscious looking cafes. The cafes windows were lined with pastries like fruit tarts and profiteroles. For lunch, I had the crunchiest, butteriest croque monsier...basically a glorified grilled cheese, but everything tastes better in French.
After lunch, including one of those beautiful fruit tarts, we climbed all 366 steps to the top of the 12th century belfry, making our thighs burn and our chests heave. As I climbed the worn stairs, I ran my finger along the cold stone and wondered what other fingers had done exactly the same thing for hundreds of years before me. At the top, we overlooked the colorful market square below.
In the market, we shopped for chocolates and lace for our families. As twilight came upon us, we found a little cafe tucked back in a corner of a side street. The specials were written on a chalkboard outside the place, including steak au poivre. I had what was, at the time, the best meal I'd ever had in my life. All I remember now was the most delicious steak with mushrooms I'd ever had in my life...and I don't like steak.
At night, we took the train back, our bellies full and our hearts warm as the rumble of the train lulled us into a sweet Belgian sleep.